If you plan on visiting the Mayan ruins of Tikal located in Guatemala, you’ll usually take a taxi to the border then meet up with a Guatemalan guide that will escort you on the remainder of the trip. Here was our driver and a good one at that. He jokingly claimed he was a PhD…professional pothole dodger. And dodge he did. It was smooth sailing all the way to the border. That’s not the reason I’m sharing this candid portrait. I’m sharing it to provide you a small glimpse into a man with a rich history. If you ever travel with me, you’ll quickly find out I love finding out about other people. Here are a few things I learned.
- His family migrated to Belize during the Mexican Civil war in 1910.
- His father became a wood-worker in the small town of San Ignacio where he was born and raised.
- He has guided tours to Guatemala for 35 years.
- The television had a greater impact on Belize than the internet did.
- The Mennonites of Belize were granted duty-free imports and continue to enjoy this law. Although, he feels it’s about time for that to stop.
- Prior to the end of the Guatemalan Civil War in 1996, he would often be stopped by guerrillas on his way to Tikal. He showed a great amount of empathy for the guerrillas and never feared them. He understood they were local framers, fighting for their land and way of life. He believed in their plight and supported them. Most of the time they would simply take his car battery and give him their battery to take back to town to charge. It didn’t bother him one bit. I never asked him how the tourists responded. Guerrilla activity in Guatemala stopped in 1996.
- Finally, beer is cheaper in Guatemala so on the weekends he visits his friends across the border and plays cards.